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Some solicitors charge exorbitant fees to hit SDLT deadline, says top agent

One of the country’s leading estate agents claims some solicitors are charging exorbitant fees on transactions as they near the latest stamp duty holiday deadline.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: “Certain solicitors are charging exorbitant fees to take on work, whereas others are working evenings and weekends to make sure they get over the line in time.”

His comments come in response to the latest housing market data from HMRC, which shows transactions soared in April by a remarkable 197.8 per cent year on year - however, that’s compared with the housing market closure of April 2020.


This new data from HMRC shows that non-seasonally adjusted estimates for UK residential transactions during the month hit 111,260 - the highest April figure since 2007 when transactions were 126,450.

Seasonally adjusted, the figure was 117,860, a 179.5 per cent rise against April 2020 but 35.7 per cent lower than March this year. 

“Although these figures reflect many sales agreed several months ago, they show a reduction in activity as many buyers did not expect to still take advantage of the stamp duty holiday” says Leaf.

“However, activity has picked up strongly since the deadline was extended, allowing many to continue where they left off, as well as encourage new entrants to the market. 

“Transactions are always a better measure of housing market strength than prices which tend to fluctuate. On the ground, supply is still a problem even though listings have improved as rollout of the second jab in particular is encouraging sellers to make their properties available.”

Another leading agent - Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson Stops - also feels there has been a pick up since the period covered by the HMRC data.

He says: “On the ground, we are not seeing activity slow down at all and our agents are as busy as ever. The number of new applicants that registered with our branches in April was on par with the number that signed up when the market reopened last June, and we now have 22 buyers chasing every instruction across our network of branches.

“Sales across our branches in London’s new 90-minute commuter belt were the busiest in April – with Chichester, Ipswich and Northampton leading the way.”

  • Rob Hailstone

    “Certain solicitors are charging exorbitant fees to take on work, whereas others are working evenings and weekends to make sure they get over the line in time.”

    More likely some are charging higher fees because they are (and have been for many months) working evenings and weekends.

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    Because they are out playing golf 2 days a week.
    If they take the job on it is their own choice. If they are so busy and do not wish to work extra hourd simple say no.

  • icon

    Sorry, but it's a bit rich for some agents to complain about solicitors having the audacity to be paid properly for what they do.

    Despite propaganda to the contrary, conveyancing is a stressful complex exercise. Only the other day I came across a sale of an apartment and because of sloppy drafting by a developer, the owner was legally obliged not only to look after the repair of his own property but also the rest of a block containing two carports and a garage!

    Needless to say the matter fell through.


    Did a solicitor not deal with the owners purchase to make sure all was ok?


    I think the best way of looking at this is to comment that finally solicitors are charging a reasonable fee for the job after decades of significant under pricing.

  • Iain Harrison

    If they can't complete the work in a reasonable timescale then they shouldn't be taking the work on, to charge higher fees to meet a deadline just means they have too much work in the first instance so will 'prioritise' certain clients who have a bigger wallet, conveyancing system is broken, when will they wake up to this?


    'The system' has been distorted by the constant interference of politicians.

    They require lawyers to be 'gatekeepers' to detect sophisticated money laundering, environmental experts, tax experts, identity theft detectors, and much, much more.

    There is nothing for lawyers 'to wake up to' and you should be directing your ire towards goverment not hard working professonals by taking cheap shots.

    Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    and the bickering ensues.

  • Iain Harrison

    Nope, if you can't complete the work don't take it on - I know many conveyancers who are overworked and underpaid by their greedy bosses who refuse to accept that there is a limit to the number of files a single conveyancer can deal with, absolutely ridiculous situation where firms take on too many files, deliver poor and slow service to their clients and then charge extra to 'make it happen' by end of June. System is broken, simple as that.

    Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    Some firms are having to quite literally BUY IN staff to cope with volume. There are not enough qualified staff to handle the volume and some firms will take on a locum (at massive cost) to hit deadlines. These need to be paid for. It may not be as simple as how you see it Iain.
    Some firms are losing staff as they are being poached with the promise of massive pay increases. I am worried about what will happen when the arse drops out of the market and staff have to be re-distributed as firms cut their cloth appropriately.

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    Ok, We will have to agree to disagree. Have a nice day


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